Under current federal law, drivers have to be 21 to get behind the wheel of commercial trucks that travel across state lines. A newly proposed bill making its way through Congress, however, is looking to lower that age limit to 18, and in effect allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to drive commercial trucks long distances.
Here are some more details about the bill:
- The bill would change federal law to allow individuals 18 and up to drive commercial trucks across state lines. In the contiguous 48, drivers between 18 and 21 are already allowed to drive commercial trucks, but cannot cross state lines.
- The senate version of the bill would allow states to participate in a six-year pilot program that allows drivers under 21 to travel 100 miles into neighboring states. Under the program, they would be prevented from making longer cross-country drives.
- The bill was prompted by a shortage in American truck drivers – a shortage that currently totals roughly 35,000 to 40,000 drivers around the U.S. and is expected to increase.
Naturally, the bill has sparked interest from many – including safety experts, trucking companies, and the general public sharing the road with commercial vehicles on a daily basis. Proponents say it is necessary to cope with the shortage, and that younger drivers are already able to drive tractor-trailers in nearly all states. Opponents, including many safety experts, have expressed concerns over the trucking industry expanding the use of teen drivers – the highest risk age group for trucking accidents.
It’s common knowledge that commercial trucks and tractor-trailers present some serious risks to the many motorists and pedestrians who share the roads with these massive machines. After all, they can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and are much more difficult to maneuver and stop quickly than smaller trucks or passenger vehicles – attributes that often contribute to serious truck accidents and serious injuries.
Drivers between 18 and 20, opponents cite, have 4 to 6 times higher rates of fatal crashes. When these risks are compounded with the dangers of large commercial trucks that frequently contribute to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, experts believe the bill will succeed only in increasing the number of truck crashes, injuries, and deaths.
At Shook & Stone, our Las Vegas truck accident lawyers have worked with numerous victims and families who have had their lives changed as a result of commercial tractor-trailer accidents – many of which were caused by the negligence of truck drivers and/or trucking companies. We believe every precaution should be taken when putting trucks and truck drivers on the road so risks are reduced and the public kept safe.
If you have questions about your rights after a truck accident and how our legal team may be able to help you, contact Shook & Stone today for a FREE case review. We serve victims throughout Las Vegas, Reno, and throughout Nevada.